Farmgate Importing

In order to have a true democracy, trade must be removed from the control of the military industrial complex (MIC). The more direct a path we can draw between consumers and producers, the more we can cut out money laundering banks, organized crime, unethical distributors, and the huge chain of the MIC that must be paid for every product that changes hands. Not only do these people collect most of the money involved in trade, they also dictate what the populace will buy, and who they will buy it from. They stand between natural trading partners and prevent the understanding, co-dependancy, and friendship that has traditionally grown from the trust shared in a trade relationship. In a true democracy, people will decide for themselves who to support.

Cutting out the Wal-Marts of the world is very easy. All that is required is some time on a trade site such as Ebay or Alibaba.com. In the case of bulk purchases, only the huge commodities like rice are a little tricky to source directly from the supplier (but they can still be sourced from the importer). The rest are very suitable for fundraising or cooperative groups to import in bulk. Once the supplier is selling directly to the purchaser, there is only the transportation, tax and tariffs between. Most of the general populace is completely unaware of the tax and tariff structures on the items they purchase. Buying directly would greatly increase awareness and encourage people to lobby for trade agreements and tax structures that are reasonable to them.

Relatively unknown and specialty items like celtic salt or soap nuts provide an excellent opportunity for schools or other fundraising organizations. Not only do they offer an opportunity to receive a fair mark-up while providing the product at a very good price, it would teach students a valuable life skill and encourage them to contribute to the economy in a positive way. Instead of acting as a typical parasitic go between, collecting a mark-up while providing no real service, they will be conducting the research, importing the product, taking risk, and creating a market, all valuable services which are fair to charge for. Instead of selling a product without thinking about whether this product would benefit their community, and without knowledge of the conditions the product was obtained under, they can choose a supplier, product, and packaging that they personally believe in.

The following steps may be helpful for a school of other fundraising group to consider what is involved in doing their own farmgate importing.

1. Select a product. Choose something that is not available locally, but which would be of interest to the target market. Choose something that all of the sellers can stand behind and be proud of selling. Choose something small enough that the shipping will not eat up all savings.

2. Research everything about the product, good and bad, potential suppliers, what to watch out for in the product or suppliers, when to buy, etc.

3. Conduct preliminary market research. If the importers do not have the money for a bulk purchase, create a founding members group that will pay in advance to provide money for the purchase. Offer an incentive such as providing the product to them at cost.

4. Research potential suppliers on trade and import sites, or, in the case of very specialized items, from all available suppliers.

5. Draft a list of all questions for the suppliers. Dates and prices (FOB or CIF? to where?), packing, quality, dates of departure and arrival, etc..

6. Research the huge topic of safe buying. Alibaba.com provides a lot of good information on their site, but a lot of it is as common sense as buying from a store. Talk to the supplier you select (chat is available on some sites). Be polite, they are busy and used to dealing with professionals, but if they are ethical they will have information (and their own pictures) of their products and facilities. Research them online, both the company name and your contact. In the end, all online buying is a matter of closing your eyes and diving in, but in many years of doing it I can honestly say that I have not once dealt with a crook, which I cannot say about buying from stores. In the rare case where you do get burnt, ask yourself why? Were you attempting a ‘too good to be true’ purchase? (iPhones from China! Only $10!!) Were you buying a product that is in itself probably a scam (most herbal supplements)? Or did you just not ask enough questions and do enough research into quality and costs? Whatever the case, the amount lost is unlikely to be significant in the long run. Considering the mark-up we usually pay, it is usually possible to be burnt a great many times and still obtain the product cheaper than you would in a store.

7. Research the importing duties and forms for your country or hire an agent and ask them what the fees will be.

8. Decide packaging and a marketing plan, and produce advertising / informational material.

This may sound complicated, especially for a school, but importing is an essential life skill in a true democracy and the only true path to informed consumers. A teacher or parent group may be intimidated the first time they attempt this, but once done, it becomes as second nature as checking the internet for information. And as important in the changing world.

Transparency, Privacy and Democracy

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A public organization is, by definition, an organization where all information is to be kept completely available to the public, unless very exceptional circumstances can be proved. Democratic governments are public organizations.

A private citizen has, by definition, the right to keep all information private unless very exceptional circumstances can be proved.

Freedom of the press is essential in a democracy because the press has a duty to provide true investigative, transparent, and unbiased journalism on the topics that the public truly does need to know to make self governing decisions. Without this true journalism, democracy is impossible. This freedom is in no way essential to entertainment or propaganda news that do not provide this service. It is absolutely essential to organizations which provide raw data and facts.

Bits of Orwellian doublespeak and misinformation to beware of:

Any information showing a government doing anything wrong may cause ill feeling towards that government. This may endanger the government. Therefore, all negative information must be suppressed in the name of national security.

The public has a right to know what is going on in public organizations. Instead of the media publishing what the organizations are doing, they will publish details of the private lives of private members of the organization. You will not be shown what presidents say in meetings, you will instead be shown what their daughters wore to school.

The private lives of private citizens in the entertainment industry are mislabelled as public information on public individuals and used to fill the media and convince the public that the media are providing the information they have a right to know.

The private lives of private citizens and organizations are completely open to the military industrial complex. If this is ever questioned, phrases like “national security”, “child pornography”, or “piracy” are usually used to justify any privacy invasion.

A Stateless War

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About this huge, world wide war that most of the population doesn’t seem to have realized we are in yet. An elementary overview.

What war?

The military industrial complex against the anonymous cloud, with an ignorant populace as the prize.

This is a war about information, governance, trade, ownership, personal and environmental health … in short, everything. The establishment is the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) . You know them, these are your banks, the government you elected, the big businesses, the lackey media and the organized crime. You know them, maybe you trust them, you may have started feeling a little, or more than a little, uneasy about them in the past decade or several.

The revolutionaries are the Anonymous Cloud. You know them too. These are the people who have caused every successful revolution the world has ever seen. They have been likened to a flock of birds, a group of individuals who happen to decide all at the same time to head in the same direction. Some split off, in groups or singly, some are shot, but the flock will continue. If the entire flock is captured, a new flock will form. The idea is the thing, and if the idea is right it will survive.

Occasionally a leader will come out and draw some focus, a Martin Luther King or perhaps a Malcolm X or even a Rosa Parks. Usually there are many leaders. In a war as huge as this, there will be many, many, leaders, in every location and aspect of the war. This is not a war for followers. It is the responsibility of each person to become as educated, informed and healthy as possible if you are to make a contribution.

Why do we need a war?

Most of you have probably noticed that most of the world is already at war, has been for a very long time, and there does not seem to be an end in sight or any plans for an end. But some people still have not noticed that this is not a Muslims vs. Christians war, or a United States vs. the world war, it is a war of the MIC against the general populace. This is a war where the populace is kept sickly, ignorant, desperate and above all fearful to keep them from rising up against the MIC. The tools used are drugs (legal and illegal), poor nutrition, environmental hazards, misinformation, blocked access to good information, poverty, stress, crime and, above all, war. The weapons against them will be information, solidarity, good health, great optimism, and mass participation in every aspect of government.

Where is the War?

The internet is the most important location, but not the only location. Wherever communication is possible. A true democracy is conducted in the open, and open government is the enemy of all bad government.

When is the War?

I will hopefully write an article about pivotal times and events one day soon. Like all large conflicts, this war is a continuation of cycles that began a long time ago. In this case, the beginnings of hacking and BBS networks would probably mark the prologue. This summer which presented so many huge triggers: the BP oil spill, the Afghanistan escalation, the Iraq pullout/non-pullout, and, most of all, the Wikileaks dump of Afghanistan documents on  July 25, 2010, will almost certainly be marked as the beginning.

How do we fight this war?

That is what this blog is about. Get healthy, get strong, get educated and informed, and start contributing to your own governance.